The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

New general education plan under construction

Freshman Kelly Ross won’t graduate in four years.

According to the university’s 2010 education attainment plan, neither will 76.2 percent of UW-Eau Claire students.

To address this problem, in part, the university’s Liberal Education Committee has been forming a proposal to update the general education requirements for Eau Claire students.

Eau Claire has gradually been changing and improving its general education requirements over the past few years. One of the most recent and most prominent is the GE bundles, which package several inter-related classes around one broad topic, such as “conflict.”

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Ross is an elementary education major, so she said going longer than four years really just comes with the territory. But it’s still disappointing, and she feels strict GE requirements are part of it.

“I’m already on track to be here four and a half years,” she said. “Part of that is my major, but some of the GEs seem really strict, so anything they can do to make it better would help.”

Senior Steven VanDeLaarschot, who has been working on the project since the beginning of this semester, said students, particularly underclassmen and incoming freshmen, would see changes quickly.

“One thing we’re hoping will happen will be increased four-year graduation rates because this framework should be much simpler than what we have right now,” he said. “Any attempt to simplify this and make it easier for students to understand is a good idea.”

The new plan, VanDeLaarschot said, has many of the same GE requirements, but it streamlines them.

VanDeLaarschot said the committee tried to make the new requirements fit better with the university’s idea of a liberal education. They include:

  • 24 credits of general education, with six for each category
  • race, class and gender equity (in place of the current cultural diversity requirement)
  • an immersion experience (the options for this are still being defined, as the committee doesn’t want it to become restrictive enough that students can’t complete it)
  • global learning, whether through a course or study abroad
  • competency in math, writing and communication
  • an ethical reasoning course
  • 18 credits of integrative learning, such as the GE bundles

The framework of the plan has 42 required credits and removes the subcategories, health and wellness and natural science lab requirements. Students with non-comprehensive majors would no longer be required to choose a minor.

The rest of the 120 credits required for graduation can be met by taking any GE classes students want to take.

“This will give students more freedom to take courses they want to take,” VanDeLaarschot said, “not just to fill some requirement.”

He added that one of the most exciting parts of the new plan is the integrative learning.

“We think it will allow students to cover their GEs in a more exciting way,” he said, “and they’ll remember the information better.

Freshman Kelly Reidt, a nursing major, said that while she thinks the current requirements ensure students get a well-rounded education, looking at a degree audit is still daunting.

“I think they cover everything,” she said, “but sometimes they’re just too much, and it can be overwhelming. Just looking at the list on the degree audit can make you think you’ll have to go five years.”

The economic policies committee is currently reviewing the proposal before passing it on to University Senate for approval. VanDeLaarschot said he expects the vote to happen next semester. If it passes, he hopes it will be implemented as soon as the fall semester of 2012.

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New general education plan under construction